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Are Powers Just A Grave Mistake?

By Hejin57, author of Music Masters

Dec 29, 2018: In the end, it’s always nice to return to superheroes. Powers, capes, costumes, they’re attractive in works of fiction and it’s nice to see how the formula can be jostled or shaken with each new work involving them.

As someone who is beginning to grow weary of superpower stories, I have to say I was glad to have read Graven to completion.

The story takes place in an alternate future Earth of sorts, with the main plot point being that extra dimensional portals called Doorways have appeared all over the Earth. These Doorways lead to parts unknown, and those who dare venture in them sometimes return with fantastic superhuman abilities that defy all logic and reasoning.

In the middle of all this, is the mystery behind the deaths of the world’s premier superhero team, The Super Fem Force. Finding other pressed into action through a series of escalating encounters, we meet the first hero, Earth Mage, who convinces a motley band of wayward superhumans to join him in a quest to solve the mystery of the Super Fem Force once and for all.

Much like its contemporaries Worm or Not All Heroes, Graven presents a pretty dark and bleak tone when it comes to powers. It never does shy away from gore and violence, making it clear early on just how lethal some powers can be if used the right way. I won’t go into specifics less I spoil anyone, but this is definitely not any sort of four-color superhero fair.

The characters are definitely a highlight. Earth Mage and his band of heroes are distinct and get quite a bit of development, with one of my favorite details being the uniqueness of their powers. I won’t ruin them for you here, but they present powers not often seen in most super hero media, and if they are, the context is twisted brilliantly.

But the story is not without its flaws. It presents an incredibly fast pacing, telling us an epic tale that I felt may have gone too fast at points. We’re presented with so many great moments, scenes, fights and characters, and the world is very detailed.

My issue is that it’s so detailed that I think we really could have spent more time with it. A story compressed into fifty chapters could have easily been a hundred instead, and because of that, some characters, especially towards the final chapters, end up feeling shoehorned in. And it’s because of this fast pacing that, when deaths happen, I only find myself caring if its a character we were introduced to early on whom I actually had time to develop a connection with. That being said, I really like that each chapter is from a different team members perspective. Between Earth Mage, Max, Hitchhiker, Shoggoth and Strider, it’s easy to find someone as your favorite.

Imperfections and pacing issues aside, this is a solid and exciting story, with some pretty awesome twists and turns towards its grand finale. While there were some anti-climatic moments, I think the creativity in the powers and great banter between the cast makes up for them in spades.

If you like things dark, and with high stakes and raw, Mark Millar-esque violence and themes, this is most certainly for you.

Final score: 4/5

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